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Mayor of London to offer boroughs ‘Right to Buy-back’ funding to boost supply of council homes

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is to offer boroughs funding to purchase homes previously sold through the Right to Buy.

The funding for this programme is part of the Affordable Homes Programme 2016-2023. Acquisitions funded in this way will have to be completed by March 2023.

Buying back properties sold under the Right to Buy is stated as the “primary objective” of the funding, but it can be used to purchase any market properties within the borough boundary.

The housing bought back in this way will subsequently be let at social rent levels or used as accommodation for homeless families. All of the properties must meet the Government’s Decent Homes Standard.

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The Mayor of London’s Office said that since the Housing Act 1980’s introduction, more than 300,000 London council homes had been sold.

The number of such sales had declined in recent years, but the Mayor of London’s Office claimed the policy continued to have a negative impact on the overall number of council homes in London. “It also doesn’t appear to be fulfilling its original mandate of boosting owner occupation, with four in ten now rented on the private market – sometimes back to the very council that was forced to sell the home in order to house homeless families.” 

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “For more than 40 years, London’s precious council homes have been disappearing into the private sector, often never to be replaced. It’s time for that to change.

“We’re not only helping councils to build thousands of new council homes, but we’re giving them the resources to buy back former council homes through our Right to Buy-back scheme. In the midst of a housing affordability crisis it feels grossly unfair and unjust that more than four in ten council homes sold through the Right to Buy in London are now in the hands of private landlords. These were, after all, homes built for the public good.”

Welcoming the funding, Cllr Georgia Gould, Leader of Camden Council, said: “In Camden we are proud to be challenging a national failed approach to tackling homelessness by buying back homes that we have been forced to sell off through years of damaging right to buy policy, and using them to house homeless families in need of temporary accommodation in our borough.”

She added that since July 2019, Camden had repurchased 61 former council properties. It plans to purchase a further 80 through £35m of additional investment into its Temporary Accommodation Purchase Programme.

Damien Egan, Mayor of Lewisham said: “The Right to Buy-back scheme is great news for Lewisham. The Mayor’s plan will enable us to reclaim urgently needed housing that was originally and rightfully intended for public ownership.

“London is facing a housing crisis, and alongside our Building for Lewisham housebuilding programme, the Right to Buy-back scheme will be important in helping us move more Lewisham residents off the housing waiting list and into secure social homes.”

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